Good strategy requires good situational awareness. Here’s how to improve yours.

Consider this: you would never make a move in chess without looking at where your opponents pieces are on the board. And before you make any move, you typically think through how the other side will likely respond and what you would do in reply to that.

Good chess players think ahead 2-3 moves. Great chess players think through 5-6, and Grand Masters think through 15-20. (If you can do the combinatorial math, email me.)

But that’s not all…

According to research reported in Nature, the reason Grand Masters are so much better than regular tournament players is that they are much better at thinking through their opportents possible moves and avoiding traps.

It’s the same in business. If you don’t think through what is happening in your market and how people will respond to your moves, you risk leaving yourself exposed and poorly positioned.

Yet far too often, I see leadership teams develop elaborate business strategies without looking at what’s happening outside their company.

On the one hand, I can understand why people do this:. it’s easier to see what’s happening inside the company and much more difficult to see what’s happening outside it.

But on the other hand, that’s using the same logic as the drunk who drops his key by his car in the middle of the block at night and looks for his keys at the corner where the streetlight is shining and helping him to see.

I think many companies don’t look at the external factors because they don’t know what to look for; they don’t know where to start.

When I plan a strategy session, I use a standard list. I might add a few things based on the specifics of the business, but I have a go to base set.

I wrote an article for on these factors recently. Here’s the link…

For each of these, I want the team to think about potential changes, trends, and risks that could have an impact on the future success of the business. Good or bad.

If you’re planning a strategy session, use this list to prompt your team’s thinking and the discussion.

And if you need help on how to plan and structure your session, I’d love to help. Just email me or schedule a call and we can discuss your goals, the format, and how to best run the session.

Here the link to my standard two-day strategy session agenda. Feel free to use it.

Do you really want to get serious about your strategy session? Let’s talk about how I can help you design and facilitate your strategy work so that during the meeting you can focus on being in the meeting rather than running the meeting.

It’s your move...

Bruce “Grand Master” Eckfeldt

P.S. As Lou Holtz famously once said, “In this world, you're either growing or you're dying so get in motion and grow.” Whenever you’re ready... here are 4 ways I can help you grow your business faster, and with less drama:

1. Take the Growth Readiness Assessment

Download the 24 questions, send me the results, and set up a free one-on-one call to review the results and identify where you can accelerate your growth with the right focus. - CLICK HERE

2. Come to my one-day Planning Intensives

About once a month, I hold a one-day intensive for Founders/CEOs to help them find the current bottleneck in their business and develop a 90-day plan for breaking through it. The in-person intensives are held in Manhattan, but we’re scheduling virtual programs, too. - CLICK HERE

3. Check out my Leadership Team Intensive

Every team can get into a rut—leadership teams are no exception. My half-day intensive helps the top team take a step back and see what’s working, what’s not, where they can develop new, better habits, and where they can break old ones that aren’t working. It’s like a B12 booster for your entire company. - CLICK HERE

4. Let me facilitate your next annual or quarterly planning meeting

Want to kick your planning sessions up a notch? Have me come in and we’ll work together on your annual or quarterly plan. Set goals that will really drive strategy, and create an action plan that will make sure everyone has clear accountability for results. - CLICK HERE